[People] “I feel like the whole world thinks they know me,” she says. “No one really knows who I am. … I don’t even know who I am sometimes. I didn’t used to be that way.”
“I’m so used to like, playing a character, that it’s hard for me be normal,” she adds.
In the trailer for her upcoming YouTube Originals documentary, This Is Paris, the star pulls back the curtain on her glamorous life as she hints at painful childhood trauma.
“Something happened in my childhood that I’ve never talked about with anyone,” Paris admits.
“I just heard screaming bloody murder,” Nicky recalls.
“But I couldn’t tell you guys, because every time I tried, I would get punished by them,” Paris says. “I still have nightmares about it. The only thing that saved my sanity was thinking about who I wanted to become when I got out of there. I just created this brand and this persona and this character, and I’ve been stuck with her ever since.”
“They say [with] trauma, the mind may forget, but the body never forgets,” Nicky explains. “It’s trapped in you, and it can come out whenever.”
The project, helmed by Emmy-winning director Alexandra Dean, promises to “uncover the hidden past of the international icon,” with Paris confronting “the heartbreaking trauma that forged who she is today,” according to the official description.
The star, whose great-grandfather Conrad Hilton founded Hilton Hotels, said filming the documentary was “almost therapeutic.”
“I’m excited, but I’m also very nervous given the topics discussed in this film,” she said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last month. “It’s things I’ve never talked about before, really personal and traumatic experiences, so to talk about that publicly is obviously very hard.”
“Obviously I’m used to be on camera from being on camera for so long. But I’ve always been a very naturally shy person, so I loved just inventing this character and playing that character,” she explained. “To actually be myself was a completely different experience, but also almost therapeutic in some way, where I learned so much about myself. I had no idea why I am the way I am, and now I understand myself so much more.”
This Is Paris premieres Sep. 14 on Hilton’s YouTube Channel.
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[Optional] Do you think Paris Hilton is likable?
Trauma: Mistreatment at boarding school
Paris Hilton says that she was horribly mistreated while attending a “boarding school” as a teenager.
Paris Hilton Opens Up About the Secret Terrifying Abuse She Suffered as a Teen
Paris Hilton is opening up about a painful secret she’s kept private for over two decades.
In her new documentary, This Is Paris, premiering Sept. 14 on Hilton’s YouTube channel, the entrepreneur and reality star reveals for the first time the horrific abuse she says she endured as a teen while at a boarding school in Utah.
“I buried my truth for so long,” Hilton, 39, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the mental, emotional and physical pain she says she underwent while at Provo Canyon School in the late ’90s. “But I’m proud of the strong woman I’ve become. People might assume everything in my life came easy to me, but I want to show the world who I truly am.”
Years before she became a household name on The Simple Life in 2003, Hilton was a teen living in New York City’s famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel with her parents, Rick and Kathy Hilton, and younger siblings: Nicky, 36, Barron, 30, and Conrad, 26.
Paris’ father, Rick Hilton, is a descendant of the family that founded Hilton Hotels. Here is Paris Hilton with her family:
Rick Hilton’s net worth is estimated to be approximately $350 million. Paris Hilton’s net worth is estimated to be approximately $300 million.
And along with the privileges of her big city life came big temptations.
“It was so easy to sneak out and go to clubs and parties,” recalls Hilton. “My parents were so strict that it made me want to rebel. They’d [punish me] by taking away my cell phone, taking away my credit card, but it didn’t work. I would still go out on my own.”
Here is Paris Hilton as a teenager:
Yes, Paris Hilton is actually a brunette. It’s amazing how different she looks at a blonde!
And here is Paris Hilton partying years later with Lady Gaga as a blonde:
While Paris Hilton may have grown up privileged, it sounds like her parents were trying to act responsibly and do everything possible to keep their underaged daughter from getting into trouble.
Eventually, says Hilton, Rick and Kathy were fed up and made the decision to send their then 17-year-old daughter to a series of boarding schools that claimed to focus on behavioral and mental development, the last of which was Provo Canyon School, where Hilton would stay for 11 months.
Almost immediately after she arrived, “I knew it was going to be worse than anywhere else,” says Hilton. The abuse she faced, she says, took place on a daily basis.
“It was supposed to be a school, but [classes] were not the focus at all,” says Hilton. “From the moment I woke up until I went to bed, it was all day screaming in my face, yelling at me, continuous torture.”
That doesn’t sound like any kind of boarding school we’ve ever heard of.
The Provo Canyon School is currently described as a “a residential treatment center for teenagers.”
Here’s a photo of a current dorm room at the school. Four to a room. Bunk beds and cubbies.
Continues Hilton: “The staff would say terrible things. They were constantly making me feel bad about myself and bully me. I think it was their goal to break us down. And they were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them.”
OK, that’s definitely not what happens at a regular boarding school.
The phrasing is a bit odd, though. Paris switches from “me” to “us” when describing certain behaviors, so it is a little unclear as to what happened to her versus how others were treated.
Perhaps it’s her way of disassociating herself from the worst events?
Three of Hilton’s former teen classmates also appear in the documentary, making similar allegations about Provo Canyon School, including that they were often force-fed medication and held down by restraints as punishment.
Paris does not mention if she personally was force-fed medication or put in restraints.
When one of her classmates told staff that Hilton had plans to run away (“you couldn’t trust anyone there,” she says), she says she was placed in solitary confinement. “They would use that as punishment, sometimes 20 hours a day.”
The fear of continued abuse began to take its toll on the once vibrant teen.
“I was having panic attacks and crying every single day,” says Hilton. “I was just so miserable. I felt like a prisoner and I hated life.”
Attempts to tell her parents about the conditions at school were fruitless. “I didn’t really get to speak to my family,” says Hilton, “maybe once every two or three months.
That sounds extremely controlling. Even at most reform schools, students have daily or weekly contact with their parents. It’s crazy that the parents would agree to be cut off from their minor child like that.
We were cut off from the outside world. And when I tried to tell them once, I got in so much trouble I was scared to say it again. They would grab the phone or rip up letters I wrote telling me, ‘No one is going to believe you.’ And the staff would tell the parents that the kids were lying. So my parents had no idea what was going on.”
Finally, when she turned 18 in 1999, Hilton left the school and headed back to New York, but was terrified to speak a word of her experience — to anyone.
“I was so grateful to be out of there, I didn’t even want to bring it up again,” says Hilton. “It was just something I was ashamed of and I didn’t want to speak of it.”
But more than 20 years later, in filming the documentary and reflecting on her life thus far, Hilton says she was finally able to open up about the trauma of her past — in the hopes that she can finally move on.
While not part of this particular interview, we will assume that Paris will say in the documentary that, as a result of these events, she invented the “character” of Paris Hilton – a silly, spoiled, vain narcissistic – to deal with the trauma.
While nobody got this exactly right, several of you correctly pinpointed that some sort of trauma occurred while Paris was at boarding school.
The documentary This Is Paris will air on YouTube beginning September 14, 2020.
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